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24 September 2018

Swinton’s strong first-half performance wasn’t enough as Championship Shield leaders Featherstone Rovers rallied to victory to send the Lions’ relegation scrap to the final weekend.

Craig Mullen scored his first try since returning from a long injury lay-off

Swinton Lions 18-34 Featherstone Rovers

Featherstone Rovers secured home advantage in the Championship Shield final with a hard fought victory over a plucky Swinton side that never gave up and were unlucky not to score more points.

Rovers got first blood in the sixth minute when John Davies went over on the right for his fiftieth try for the club and Ian Hardman added the conversion, but three minutes later he was in the sin-bin for a high shot on Rob Fairclough, which could easily have seen a different coloured card.

While he was off the field the Lions made Rovers pay when firstly Jack Hansen sent Andy Thornley racing on for a try on the right but Fairclough could not convert. Then three minutes later, Fairclough turned the provider with an excellent floated kick for the left corner to which Ryan Gray was first to react and dive over in the corner. Sadly Fairclough missed again with the boot.

Rovers then had an attack on the Lions line but they lost the ball in a good position and the Lions moved back up field to claim their third try when Craig Mullen finished off a great passing movement to race in from thirty metres under the posts. In the build-up Fairclough was hit off the ball and Jack Hansen added the conversion as the incident went on report. Then straight from the restart, Mike Butt took the ball up and he was also hit high in the tackle which was also put on report.

Rovers’ Misi Taulapapa put his side back in it thirteen minutes from the break when he found an overlap on the right and Hardman again converted but the Jack Hansen added a penalty goal just before the break for another high shot on Fairclough to hold a four-point lead.

The start to the second half saw the defences on top until Jack Hansen landed another penalty goal in the fifty-second minute for a ball steal, but Rovers hit back within four minutes when Anthony Tackeray burrowed his way in to score on the left and Hardman again converted to level the scores with twenty-two minutes left.

Fairclough and Taulapapa were then sent to the sin-bin on the hour when both teams had a case of handbags, but Rovers made the most of it scoring two tries with Danny Maskill and Connor Farrell both going over in a four minute period. Hardman again converted both as his team were now starting to find holes in the Lions’ defence.

Matty Wildie could have scored on seventy minutes but some good defence held him up on his back, but with eight minutes to go Josh Hardcastle found a gap on the left to score. Hardman hit the posts and missed with the conversion attempt and the it looked like he was going to score the final try of the match but he lost the ball going for the posts. However it was job done for Featherstone, leaving the Lions still in danger and a must-win game at Batley next week to ensure Championship rugby for next season.

Ian Rigg reporting from Heywood Road


LIONS:1. Gabriel Fell, 5. Mike Butt, 11. Rhodri Lloyd, 31. Craig Mullen, 16. Ryan Gray, 30. Rob Fairclough, 7. Jack Hansen, 15. Ben Austin, 9. Luke Waterworth, 24. Aaron Hall, 10. Andy Thornley, 17. Kyle Shelford, 14. Hayden Hansen

Subs (all used): 21. Chris Worrall, 34. Paddy Jones, 33. Josh Ganson, 6. Brad Billsborough

Tries: Thornley (10), Gray (13), Mullen (19).    Goals: Fairclough 0/2, J.Hansen 3/3

Sin-Bin: Fairclough (60) Fighting


ROVERS: 1. Ian Hardman, 38. Dakota Whylie, 4. Misi Taulapapa, 20. Josh Hardcasite, 2. Shaun Robinson, 7. Anthony Thackeray, 14. Matty Wildie, 17. Luke Cooper, 24. Danny Maskill, 22. Sam Brooks, 12. John Davies, 11. Connor Farrell, 13. James Lockwood

Subs: 9. Keal Carlile, 21. Bradley Tagg (NU), 6. Martyn Ridyard

Tries: Davies (6), Taulapapa (27), Thackeray (56), Maskill (64), Farrell (68), Hardcastle (72)

Goals: Hardman 5/6    Sin-Bin: Davies (9) High tackle, Taulapapa (60) Fighting

On-Report: High Tackle on Fairclough (19), Off the ball tackle on Butt (20)

Penalty Count: 13-11    HT: 16-12    Referee:   Tom Grant    Att: 606




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